MEMORY LANE: Vicoria’s 518lb Christmas pud

MIGHTY MEAL: How we reported the culinary news in 1974
MIGHTY MEAL: How we reported the culinary news in 1974
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TAKE 180 eggs...

Quite a daunting start to a recipe, but then this was a 518lb Christmas pudding being prepared for hungry revellers at Hartlepool’s Grand Hotel.

Its size was not the only remarkable thing about it, as the recipe dated back to before Queen Victoria’s reign – and had apparently been sampled by the monarch herself.

The old recipe was found by chef Keith Podmore, who discovered it tucked away in the kitchen of a Surrey hotel.

Keith, working at the Grand Hotel in 1974, said it was a recipe used in the very first company hotel “back in the days of old fashioned Christmases and old fashioned cooking”.

He told Mail reporter Margaret O’Rourke: “I brought the recipe with me when I came as head chef in May.

“I think I am correct in saying that I am the only chef in the group who still uses it.”

According to Keith, one key to a successful pudding was the secret toast when all the alcoholic ingredients had been mixed together.

“It is an old ceremony and very much part of the mixing and making,” Keith confided.

Keith shared a tipple of the mixed spirits and Guinness with all the kitchen staff who had been busy mixing and measuring ingredients – but declined to share the words of the secret toast with the Mail.

The toast wasn’t all – the ingredients had to mixed in a special order, a particular person had to have the first stir, another had to pour in the spirits, the lemons must go in minutes after the cooking apples and syrup...

In the circumstances, we hesistate to suggest anyone “try this at home” but if you are feeling adventurous the ingredients are in the panel.

They will make a 518lb pudding so may require scaling down for your festive centrepiece!

Perhaps you made the pudding back in 1974, or even know the words of the secret toast and other arcane methods?

Email or write to him at Hartlepool Mail, New Clarence House, Wesley Square, Hartlepool, TS24 8BX.